The alarm clock beeps incessantly. Morning again. Reaching over, he fumbles with it a little before finding the snooze button. A few more minutes won’t hurt. A few more minutes to rest.
But he can’t sleep. His mind already swirls with thoughts of the day ahead. So much to do. Little details, big projects, meetings. It’s going to be a busy day.
And, when it’s done, what does he have to look forward to? Doing it all over again. Tomorrow will be exactly the same. Hit the snooze button a few times, get out of bed, and face the same job, the same tasks, the same routine. He feels like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, endlessly living the same day over and over again, constantly confronted with the pointlessness of it all.
But hey, at least it’s a paycheck. He’s got bills to pay and groceries to buy. After all, if he didn’t have this job, his family wouldn’t be able to enjoy the good things in life either. Living for the weekends, as they say.
So he rolls out of bed, stumbles into the bathroom, and starts his own personal Groundhog Day all over again.
And along the way, he messes up the gospel.
It’s pretty easy to understand what the gospel has to do with Sunday. But what about the rest of the week? If the gospel doesn’t have anything to say about what comes after Sunday, then it leaves most of your life untouched.
And that’s often the impression that we give when we talk about the gospel. If the good news is primarily that I can have my sins forgiven so that I can spend eternity with God, then my job has relatively little to do with the gospel. For most of us, work is just a necessary evil, a way to make money. At best, it may provide the occasional opportunity to share the gospel. Even those of us who enjoy our jobs have a hard time seeing how it relates to the gospel. The gospel is for Sundays. The rest of the week is about something else, a gospel-free zone.
That’s not how it’s supposed to be.
Think back to the garden. Imagine Adam standing in stunned silence as he tries to process what God has just told him he’s supposed to be doing. Finally, after several slow seconds, he stammers, “You want me to take responsibility for the whole thing? Animals, plants, mountains, streams, oceans, everything? I’m supposed to watch over it all so that everything works together to manifest your glory? Seriously? Do you see what the monkeys are doing over there? What made them think it would be a good idea to pick that stuff up and throw it at each other? Oh great, now the dogs are eating it. And you want me to be in charge of all this? Do I at least get vacations?”
God created us for work (Genesis 2:15). He set us in creation and gave us work to do as one of the ways in which he would manifest his glory through us. And the same holds true at the end of the story. The eternity that God has in store for us is not one of unending boredom, sitting on fluffy clouds playing our harps all day. Instead, it will be an eternity of work. Not the endless drudgery that work often is now. But the joyful realization of our purpose: to work in creation as God’s image bearers in the world (Revelation 22:3).
So what does all this have to do with today? How does this help us understand how our work relates to the gospel? Because the good news is that through Jesus, God has summoned us back into his kingdom so that we can again be what God always intended us to be, so those of us who have responded can live again as citizens of the kingdom.
The alarm beeps incessantly. It can’t possibly be morning again, can it? She rolls over and hits snooze. She knows he should get up. Busy day ahead. Of course, every day is busy. She looks forward to the weekend and getting some time with her family. It’s not that she hates her job, though she definitely doesn’t love it either. But she does enjoy her weekends.
She lays there for a while struggling with the apparently meaninglessness of it all. She doesn’t like working for just a paycheck. She wishes it could be more.
And then she remembers. Every day is an opportunity to live out her purpose in the world, to image God everywhere, helping people see his glory through her. That doesn’t make all of the frustration go away. She’s still going to keep her eye out for a different job, one that fits her gifts and interests a little better. But, in the meantime, she’d better get up. She has work to do today.
Marc Cortez is a theology professor and Dean at western seminary, husband, father, & blogger, who loves theology, church history, ministry, pop culture, books, and life in general. This post is an excerpt from his new book good news for the living dead: a fresh take on the gospel story. Visit him at marccortez.com.